Starting the Ceremony
Light any altar candles. If it is a very simple altar and you are putting directional candles on the actual altar, the southern altar candle will serve as the elemental candle as well, so don’t light this one yet.
If others are present, stand in the center of your visualized or maybe stone-constructed circle and face your guests. Otherwise stand in the center of your visualized circle. Make a short spontaneous call for blessing on all present or on yourself if carrying out the ritual alone. Hold your wand or a pointed quartz crystal in your hand, circling it clockwise as you speak.
In a simple outdoor spell this opening blessing will serve as casting the circle if you picture light beams emanating from your wand to make a light circle round you and your altar space which rises into the sky and sinks down into the ground.
Use your own favorite greeting blessing or adapt one from an old Celtic blessing. You can say something like this:
Circle this place/hillside/garden/woodland/seashore, Mother/Father. Keep harm without, keep peace within. Circle this place, Father/Mother. Bless all who gather here this day.
The ‘all’ will, if you are working alone, include the nature essences and elemental guardians of the four quarters of the circle.
Generally, you will now want to cast a full circle of magickal power round the group, or round yourself and the altar if working alone.
Cast the circle with your wand, crystal point or the index finger of your power hand (the hand you write with). Always do this clockwise, starting in the north or east. This draws earth and sky energy to you.
If you want a more elaborate circle (you need not and can go straight on to opening the four quarters) make a triple circle to empower the magickal one you created.
If you were making these three circles, this would be the point at which you would light the candle of the south and any incense. Pre-heat the charcoal for loose incense as it takes about en minutes: a stick is instant. If you are using a sacred salt and water mix into the ritual or the circle casting, empower the mix now. You can use your wand to stir the salt and water together. For a special ritual, you would set the salt and water dishes on your pentacle.
Make the triple circles with three clockwise circles, one over the other or extending inwards, the first with the sacred salt and water mix (or just salt), the second with incense and the third with the directional candle of the south. If not using the salt water mix, substitute magickal water droplets for the candle to make the third circle. If there are other present, three of you can walk round in a complete circle, one following the other, or make a single triple-empowered circle starting in the northeast.
Put the wand in the south of the altar (some use the east as they regard the wand as an air tool).
If you are inviting the guardians of the directions you should now visit the four quarters moving in a clockwise direction. Greet each one in turn and ask for their appropriate power and protection. Again, start in the north but many practitioners work from the east.
Otherwise you and anyone present can simply face that direction and raise both arms in greeting (palms flat and uppermost). Visualize the elemental forces as they are in nature entering the circle. You would still be greeting the guardians as you face the different directions, just not actually be visiting the four quarters.
You can do elemental greeting even with just a small traveling or outdoor altar by picking up each of the elemental substances in turn and inviting the guardian of the element into your altar and your spell. Reverse the actions at the end of the ritual and thank them.
If you aren’t opening the quarters, light any directional candles now and then add some incense to the charcoal if you didn’t use incense to cast the triple circle.
If using an incense stick light this now from the nearest candle (again if not used for the circle casting).
If you want to, you can now invite the ancestors or a particular one who acts as your guardian spirit by facing the west and calling them. Some people strike the ground with their staff at this point.
Now invite the fey beings into the circle (turning to all four directions as you call them). It is a good idea and practice to do this every time you do an outdoor spell.
Finally, if you want to make your ritual real special, face south, open your arms wide and ask if any deities (you can name them) would bless your ritual.